Seals venture into New Brighton, sparking curiosity and concern

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch
Feb 03, 2024 |


The Department of Conservation has guidelines for the public if they spot seals on beaches.

It follows recent sightings of seals on New Brighton beach.

The Department of Conservation (DOC) said that these sightings are part of a larger trend of seals recolonising their former habitats across mainland New Zealand, the Chatham Islands, and the subantarctic islands.

The presence of seals, especially from July to September, is becoming more common as adolescent seals are spotted more frequently on shores and even further inland.

This period marks the time when seal pups begin to wean as their mothers prepare for new pups.

Seals have been known to wander up to 15 km inland, following rivers and streams, leading to their appearance in unexpected places such as paddocks, roadside, or inner-city streets.

This exploratory behaviour is considered normal for the species.

The DOC has emphasised a ‘hands off’ approach to dealing with seals, advising the public to leave them alone and not to feed them.

Seals are described as capable and resilient, usually able to find their way back to the ocean on their own given time and space.

The public is warned against the dangers of attempting to interact with seals, as they can defend themselves if they feel threatened and can move quickly on land.

Adult seals pose a risk of serious injuries to both dogs and people and can carry infectious diseases.

It is an offence under the Marine Mammals Protection Act 1978 to disturb, harass, harm, injure, or kill a seal.

The DOC has issued safety guidelines for watching seals, advising people to stay at least 20 metres away, avoid disturbing them, and never attempt to touch a seal.

The DOC has also outlined what is considered normal seal behaviour, indicating that interventions are only necessary if a seal is in notably poor condition, in immediate danger, tangled in debris, causing disruption, or being harassed.

In such cases, the DOC has an emergency hotline for the public to call. 0800 362 468

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch

Chris Lynch is a journalist, videographer and content producer, broadcasting from his independent news and production company in Christchurch, New Zealand. If you have a news tip or are interested in video content, email [email protected]

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